Make your visit to the Hilton Head Island-Bluffton area even more enjoyable! Here are a few tips and recommendations to consider before you leave home.
While en route to the United States, your airline will give you documents to complete. All travellers are required to complete Customs Declaration Form 6059B. Those travellers who are non–U.S. citizens and are requesting admission to the United States with a visa will also be handed Form I-94 (white), Arrival/Departure Record. You must go through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), for immigration and customs processing. CBP must approve your entry upon your first airport landing in the United States. For more information, visit http://www.discoveramerica.ca/usa/travel-information/entering-the-usa.aspx.
Hilton Head Island’s weather is ideal to explore the outdoors and soak up the sunshine. The Hilton Head area features a balmy, subtropical climate year round.
Hilton Head Weather
|January: 4-15°C/40-59°F||May: 18-28°C/64-83°F||September: 21-29°C/69-85°F|
|February: 5-16°C/41-61°F||June: 21-31°C/70-87°F||October: 15-25°C/59-77°F|
|March: 9-20°C/48-68°F||July: 23-32°C/74-89°F||November: 9-20°C/49-69°F|
|April: 13-24°C/56-76°F||August: 23-32°C/74-89°F||December: 6-16°C/42-61°F|
The U.S. dollar (USD) is generally the only currency accepted in the country. ATMs are available 24/7 at most banks, as well as in high-traffic areas like airports and shopping centers. Most ATMs charge a service fee of $2.50 or more per transaction and your home bank may impose additional charges. Withdrawing cash from an ATM using a credit card usually incurs a hefty fee; check with your credit-card company first. For more information, visit http://www.discoveramerica.ca/usa/travel-information/money.aspx.
As a routine matter, U.S. Customs and Border Protection may search your belongings even if you don’t declare anything. You are allowed to bring in: no more than 200 cigarettes and 100 cigars per individual 18 and older; up to one litre of alcoholic beverages per individual 21 years of age and older; gifts and purchases valued at a maximum of $100 total. Anyone travelling with $10,000 or more in cash—whether it’s in U.S. dollars or any other currency—must declare it. For the full list of customs rules, go to cbp.gov
American electronic devices operate on 110-120 volts AC, compared to 220-240 volts AC in most of Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. A voltage converter or universal adaptor is required for overseas electrical devices.
The United States offers some of the finest health care in the world, but unless you have good insurance, it can be prove expensive. If your regular policy doesn’t cover you—or if you don’t have health insurance—it’s essential to purchase travel health insurance. If your health insurance does not cover you for medical expenses abroad, consider supplemental insurance. Find out in advance if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures.
English is the recognized language of the United States, with 95% of Americans speaking it. Spanish is the second most common language in the country, spoken by over 12% of the population.
Alcohol & Drugs: As per DiscoverAmerica.com, “Bars and stores often ask for photo ID to prove you are of legal drinking age (i.e. 21 or over). Being ‘carded’ is standard practice; don’t take it personally. The sale of alcohol is subject to local government regulations; some counties prohibit alcohol sales on Sunday, after midnight or before breakfast.”
Natural Disasters: Most areas with predictable natural disturbances, such as hurricanes in the South, have an emergency siren system to alert communities to imminent danger. These sirens are tested periodically at noon, but if you hear one and suspect trouble, turn on a local TV or radio station, which will be broadcasting safety warnings and advice, and The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers in-case-of-emergency advice, news and information.
Every visitor entering the United States from abroad needs a passport. Foreign passports must be valid for at least six months longer than your intended stay in the United States unless your country of origin is exempt from that requirement.
Foreign nationals entering the United States are also required to present a valid visa issued by a United States consular official unless they are: a citizen of a country eligible for the Visa Waiver Programme, a lawful permanent resident of the USA, or a citizen of Canada or other visa-exempt country. For more information on passport and visa requirements, visit http://www.discoveramerica.ca/usa/travel-information/entering-the-usa.aspx
Hilton Head Island is located in the Eastern Time Zone (EST), which is the same time zone as New York City, Miami, Jamaica, Chile, Peru, etc. There is a five-hour time difference between the United Kingdom and Hilton Head Island (GMT-5).
While tipping is not mandatory in America, it generally is expected in most circumstances for service. Suggested tips range from $1-5 for bellhops, doormen, and parking valets; $2-5 per night for housekeeper; and $5-10 for concierge if they’ve arranged tickets or reservations.
For waiters at sit-down restaurants, bartenders, barbers/hairdressers/attendants at beauty salons, taxi drivers, and tour guides, the suggested tip should be calculated as a percentage of your total bill as follows: 10% usually means you are unhappy, 15% generally means all was okay, 20% for excellent, 25% for outstanding.
Many hotels and resorts offer high-speed Internet access, satellite TV services and international telephone services; you can also buy pre-paid calling cards for national or international calls. International roaming charges apply to mobile phones in accordance with your mobile plan, so check with your mobile provider before travelling. Remember that if you’re not from the U.S., you’ll need an AC adapter for your laptop, plus a plug adapter for U.S. sockets.
If you plan to drive when you visit South Carolina, you’ll need an International Driving Permit, accompanied by your official driving license. The United States doesn’t issue International Driving Permits to foreign visitors, so you’ll need to obtain this document in your home country before you travel to the United States. Please note that driving in Hilton Head is on the right side of the road.
Most car rental companies require the renter to be 25 years old, although there are companies who will rent to customers between the ages of 21-24 (with certain restrictions, depending on the rental company). Taxi service is also readily available throughout Hilton Head Island, as well as shuttles for groups from the airports to local hotels.
For more information on transportation within the United States, please visit http://www.discoveramerica.ca/usa/travel-information/transportation-within-the-us.aspx.
Hilton Head Island is quite informal, so casual wear is appropriate throughout the year. In the fall and winter, a jumper, anorak, or windcheater should be fine to keep warm for the lower temperatures. During the spring and summer, lightweight shirts and tops, jeans, shorts, and swimwear are ideal. If you’re dining in more elegant/upscale restaurants, bring formal shirts, trousers, or dresses.
To have a Hilton Head Island wedding, couples must be in residence for 24 hours prior to applying for a marriage license. The cost of the license ranges from $50-$95, and valid identification is required, such as a birth certificate or passport. The ceremony may be performed by a minister or notary public, and wedding ceremonies held on the beach require a permit from the Town of Hilton Head Island.
Both applicants must apply in person at the Office of the Judge of Probate at the county courthouse or the Probate Court Satellite office on Hilton Head Island.